June 27, 2006
Death by shootoutSwiss out, Ukraine moves on
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
COLOGNE, Germany -- "Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be ..."
And what would be was World Cup history.
The stadium was filled with the sounds of the Doris Day classic song, the same "Que sera, sera" refrain played again and again and again in a pumped-up, rocked-up version while Switzerland and Ukraine prepared to go to penalty kicks.
There's no worse way in sport to lose than on penalty shots. Maybe it's worse to lose to Italy on a single one of them on an absolutely awful call in injury time, as happened to Australia yesterday.
But here, a team that hadn't given up a goal in four complete 90-minute games, plus two 15-minute overtime sessions, lost to Ukraine.
Until extra time, nobody could call them Swiss cheese anymore. There were no holes. Switzerland hadn't given up a single, solitary goal. And now they're headed home.
FIRST SHOT OF SHOOTOUT
When Swiss keeper Pascal Zuberbuehler stopped Ukraine's top player, Andriy Shevchenko on the first shot of the shootout - after the two teams went scoreless through 120 minutes - Switzerland looked as if it would advance to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1954.
Shevchenko said it was a "great victory."
"We suffered a lot and we're happy to have won for all Ukrainians," Shevchenko said. "We do not have the greatest players, but we make up for that by making sacrifices for each other, by playing with a lot of heart."
As was the case with Italy-Australia earlier in the day, Switzerland-Ukraine was a World Cup matchup that had never been made before. It wasn't, however, much of a match.
The Swiss, who scored 2-0 wins over both Togo and Korea and went nil-nil against France, had clear sledding through this Cup.
Ukraine, a first-time caller at the World Cup, became the first team from the former Soviet Union other than Russia to qualify. There's no Russia here this year. And this group had to recover from a 4-0 spanking by Spain in its opener before getting its spit together to get to this game.
It was Shevchenko, the AC Milan player who some call the most complete striker in the world, who carried the team through qualifying and held its hands to get back on track after the Spain loss.
Shevchenko, who never had the big stage before, scored two World Cup goals to help his squad through to the Round of 16. And he was a massive presence this night as the two teams went at it without conceding each other much until they'd run out of time and suddenly it was "Que sera, sera."
Whatever will be, will be. Shevchenko placed the ball perfectly to the lower left corner, but Zuberbuehler guessed right.
Marco Streller took the first turn for Switzerland, and made a mess of his attempt.
HOLES FINALLY APPEARED
It was then the holes finally appeared in the Swiss net. Three straight goals against two consecutive saves by Oleksandr Shovkovskyi and it was history.
"We put in a good performance and I hope all of Switzerland is still behind us. Football is sometimes hard, but we gained a lot of experience for Euro 2008 in our own country," defender Ludovic Magnin said.
"It's not that we play defensive football, we played how we've always played," Switzerland coach Koebi Kuhn said. "But it's also true we have high-quality young defenders, which is why we allowed no goals throughout the tournament. That doesn't help us now."
When it was over it was Ukraine, and a significant percentage of the planet thinks it really should have been Ukraine-Australia. And that definitely would have been World Cup history.